News Release: Social Assistance caseload lowest in nine years
August 16, 2001
(Human Resources and Employment)
For the month of July, the number of people receiving income support in the province dropped to its lowest level in nine years. The social assistance caseload for the month of July was 28,496, while the number of actual recipients was 53,071, a level that has not been seen since 1992.
The latest decline comes after several months of steadily decreasing caseload numbers, indicating many clients are leaving the system and rejoining the labour market. On a year over year basis, the latest employment figures for the province were up in July by 3.9 per cent or approximately 9,000 jobs as compared to July last year, bringing year to date employment growth in 2001 to 3.2 per cent.
"The social assistance caseload decrease can be attributed to a number of reasons including active employment measures, increased job opportunities and changing demographics," said Gerald Smith, Minister of Human Resources and Employment. "However, another major factor is the department's overall redesign of our income support program."
Since 1998, the Department of Human Resources and Employment has been redesigning its income support program to better meet the needs of clients as they prepare to enter or re-enter the labour market. Successful measures such as an extended drug card, the Newfoundland and Labrador Child and Family Benefits, an employment program for income support clients called NewfoundJobs and the Single Parent Employment Program have all helped clients leave the system and find career and employment opportunities.
"Through our redesign initiatives, clients can access programs and services beyond financial support," said Minister Smith. "Our income support program now offers further resources that make the transition from income support to the labour market possible. This transition is happening more often and is evident in our steadily decreasing caseload and increasing labour force participation."
"A major priority of my department and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is to ensure all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have equal opportunities in our growing provincial labour market," concluded Minister Smith. "These latest numbers are the best we have seen since the early 1990s, which is very encouraging for the department and the overall provincial economy."
Redesign initiatives making a difference
- In 1999, the Department of Human Resources and Employment introduced the Newfoundland and Labrador Child Benefit (NLCB). Previously, low income families facing barriers to employment were financially worse off accepting employment due to the loss of benefits for the children. The NLCB is provided in conjunction with the Canada Child Tax Benefit to all families whose income is less than $21,744. The NLCB is intended to reduce barriers to employment by providing stable benefits for children as parents move out of the income support program. Regardless of employment status, families do not experience a loss in benefits for their children if they are a low income family. The NLCB operates outside the Income Support Program. Approximately 21,000 families a year receive the NLCB.
- Previously, income support clients who left the program also lost their drug card coverage, which was a major disincentive to leave the system in choice of employment. Now, clients have a six month extended drug card coverage if they leave income support for employment reasons.
- Last year, 2,400 income support clients received a range of support through NewfoundJobs. This fiscal year, 2001-2002, the department will spend $3 million on the program.
- Since 1998, the department has assisted 239 single parents through the Single Parent Employment Program.
- Last year, the Supported Employment Program enabled 700 adults with developmental delays find and maintain employment in their communities.
- Since its inception in 1998, the Linkages Employment Program has helped approximately 500 youth across the province.